After the death of a loved one, it may bring some comfort to a British Columbia family to learn that the deceased prepared his or her estate, including designating someone to handle the duties of estate executor. This is a complex job with dozens of responsibilities and obligations. An estate executor who fails to handle these duties competently may be far from comforting for family members and heirs of the estate.
A designated executor who does not feel up to the job should speak up as soon as possible, preferably in time for the testator to choose someone else. However, the court can also name a new executor who is willing and able to take care of matters such as arranging the funeral, obtaining the death certificate and copies of the will, and securing the assets of the estate. From that point forward, the property within the estate is under the protection of the executor.
It is the executor's job to manage, inventory and appraise items as necessary. Protecting the value of the estate also means stopping payments on unnecessary items such as cable or magazine subscriptions, and paying bills and debts of the deceased in the proper order. These duties may take months as probate proceeds. An estate executor who fails to handle these matters appropriately may seriously depreciate the value of the estate.
Those in British Columbia who have reservations or concerns about the actions of an estate executor may have cause to question the fitness of the person doing the job. It may be a case of someone accepting a role but having no experience, or it could be a matter of violating one's fiduciary duty to the heirs. Many find it helpful to seek advice from a lawyer about the options for dealing with an unfit executor.